Over the last fifteen months, I have been spending a great deal of time with my family in Pennsylvania. It started off as a short break from NYC after losing a great idyllic space in Brooklyn, but became a way for Louie, my Golden Retriever, and I to have even more space and to spend time with our family. But in life, all things can change unexpectedly and many times that is a very good thing.
For the record, I have been splitting my time between NYC and PA. I am fortunate enough to have work that (mostly) allows me to work from almost anywhere. “All you need is a good internet connection” right? Well I commuted to and from the city for over eight months last year, it was a weekly slog but at least the train travel was nice. There have been tradeoffs and moments lost and gained in either place, but it’s all been by conscious choice.
I am truly fortunate to have supportive parents who paved the way to many doors for me to choose. Their immigrant story is no different than millions of others. They came to this country with two suitcases and two hundred dollars. No family and no friends to pick them up from the airport, help them get settled, or figure things out. How many of us could go through all of these changes without all the technology and interconnectedness that we have now? Not many.
I often wondered if I would have the courage or fortitude to do what they did and move to a brand new place without much of a safety net. They did have some structure to keep them balanced. But they still took a monumental leap of faith in a promise of a new life, with each other, and in a new country. But they had a plan and stuck to it. So over the last fifteen months, it’s been great for me to help out at home and reconnect with them.
Earlier tonight I watched an interview George Harrison gave in 1997. Sitting alongside Ravi Shankar, George talked about consciousness, the pursuit of happiness, and what really matters in life. George may have been fortunate to have so much fame, money, and clout so early in his life, but he balanced his fame, as best he could, as the most spiritual and self aware within the Fab Four.
“It may sound like a lofty thing to say on VH1 but basically What are we doing on this planet? And I think through the Beatle experience that we had, we had grown so many years within a short period of time. And experienced so many things and met so many people. But I realized there was nothing actually that was giving me a buzz anymore. I was, I wanted something better…” -G.H.
Thankfully, most people will never have to go through the pitfalls of fame that he did, but I believe the key point here is questioning “the value” of where, what, and whom you choose to surround yourself. Are you truly happy where you are? What you are doing? Do your family and friends challenge you to be a better person? If not, why not?
Of course I do not believe that perfection exists, but the pursuit of it should exist within all of us. For some it may be a higher level of consciousness or self-awareness, for others it may just being more mindful of the thousands of choices we make every single day. I cannot even fathom how little privacy the fab four actually had, but they sure did make an impact with more than just their music. Peace, love, happiness, vegetarianism, ethics and morals, handling fame, but most importantly choice were brought to the forefront of pop culture.
“I get confused when I look around at the world I see everybody’s running around. And, you know as Bob Dylan said ‘He not busy being born is busy dying’ and yet nobody’s trying to figure out what’s the cause of death and what happens when you die. I mean that to me is the only thing really, that’s of any importance. The rest is all secondary.” -G.H.
George said this in 1997, imagine what he would say about life in 2014. I firmly believe that there are those out people out there who have struck a better balance between the excesses and pitfalls of life. Money buys nice things, but happiness and bliss come from within. That may be an easy thing for a multi-millionaire to profess, but I think it is true for everyone. Are you happy with all of the “things” you have around you? Are you working hard for the right reasons?
We all have bills, families, responsibilities, and challenges in our lives, but we choose many of these things. I am not eschewing responsibility, rather endorsing it. I fundamentally believe that being more mindful of every single choice will lead to much greater happiness. Perhaps it may involve scaling back certain aspects of our lives, or extending them in other ways – but it all begins with evaluating what and who really matters in our lives and then striving to achieve those goals.
“‘Knock and the door will be opened.’ And it’s true. And if you want to know anything in this life. You just have to knock on the door. Whether that be some Physically on somebody else’s door and ask them a question or, which I was lucky to find, is the meditation. Is, you know it’s all within.” -G.H.
There’s just so much out there that we don’t know. I keep thinking about this idea, that everything lay within. Peace, happiness, inner strength, it’s all there. Nobody has all the right answers, but asking oneself the right questions will help each one of us get there, wherever “there” may be. Eddie Vedder quips in on “I Got Id”:
“Got all these questions, don’t know who I could even ask…” -E.V.
I think he does, he asked himself.
I chose to take a break from the rigors of life in NYC and spend time with my family. I am quite fortunate in the respect that I could come home. Certain aspects of life here or losing opportunities in my career may not have been ideal, but the net effect of spending time with family has been so valuable.
I am not sure where the road goes from here. But one thing I have learned well over the last fifteen months is just how much I value choice. I may not have made all the right choices in life, but that’s the beauty of it all. Choosing between options, and more importantly creating new ones where/when they do not exist, and the path we each travel are so precious. Happy trails!